THE TOP THREE:
1. DAVIDSON (14-1)
2. VANDERBILT (12-2)
3. DUKE (10-2)
The South's big three (above) were idle last week while their players fretted over exams, but Vandy's coach, Roy Skinner, had other things to worry about, too. Southeastern Conference challengers were popping up like crocuses after an early spring rain.
Auburn, despite its first SEC loss, was the most immediate threat to Vanderbilt. The Tigers, bugged by a jinx that never lets them win in Lexington's Memorial Coliseum, shot badly against KENTUCKY and lost 73-67. Coach Adolph Rupp, searching desperately for a way out of his own unhappy dilemma, had tried to psyche his shortish Wildcats by telling them, "You don't have to be big to be champions; champions come in all sizes." Surprisingly, it worked against the Auburn team, normally strong rebounders. Rupp's "pore ol" li'l boys" played like 7-footers, especially sophomore Louie Dampier, who shot in 10 out of 14 tries for 22 points, and Terry Mobely, who contributed 18. AUBURN, however, recovered quickly to smash Georgia 95-65.
Then there was FLORIDA, a newcomer to the scene with a 5-1 league record. The big, strong Gators, after holding Miami's sharp-shooting Rick Barry to 26 points while beating the Hurricanes 86-69, took Kentucky out of the race with an 84-68 thrashing in Gainesville. This time the Wildcats were simply in way over their heads. Florida's 6-foot-10 Jeff Ramsey and 6-foot-9 Gary Keller, who scored 20 points, overwhelmed them off the boards and Dick Tomlinson and Brooks Henderson shattered their skimpy defenses for 39 points. MIAMI'S Barry later got 46 in a 128-95 win over Rollins.
Tennessee, which had lost to Vanderbilt for its only conference defeat, was not finished yet, either. Coach Ray Mears, who likes his Vols to shoot sparingly but accurately, put A. W. Davis and Ray Widby in the corners against Georgia, and they bombed away for 32 and 22 points, respectively, as Tennessee won 76-57.
Louisville Coach Peck Hickman is living proof that bench experts are seldom right. His Cardinals had battled Cincinnati through two overtime periods and the best part of a third, and the teams were still tied with six seconds to go when Hickman signaled for a time-out. But he quickly canceled his strategy when he spotted 6-foot-7 sophomore Joe Liedtke free in a corner. He shouted. "Go, go!" instead, and Liedtke obediently fired in a 20-footer to beat the Bearcats 82-80 and give Hickman his 400th victory. Then Louisville lost to DAYTON 83-78.
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (11-2)
2. WICHITA STATE (12-2)
3. MIAMI OF OHIO (13-1)